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A musical?

So, I have been working on an inane idea. For ages I have had the desire to somehow incorporate a musical into YA fiction. For me, the musical is one of the more fantastical of film genres -- people just don't break into fabulous songs and dance numbers in real life (oh, though I wish they did!).

Maybe the future of e-books will permit embedded mp3 files or whatever when you come upon a scene. Or moving text to signify song lyrics. But the old fashioned static page? How could it be done.

So I abandoned any thought on this for the longest time until the idea for doing a story about the gay elements in Herman Melville's work stuck in my head. And so, I have been doing

---

My boyfriend called me over to study, but I hoped we would be making out rather than struggling through Moby Dick, a book which squashed my brain like a lead weight whenever I tried to read more than a few pages. Then I saw what Hugh had done to his bedroom. Gone were the posters of Bob Dylan, Morissey, and the Red Caps. Instead, old black and white drawings of whaling had been haphazardly taped on the walls surround like petals of a flower two photographs of thick bearded old men.

"Herman Melville and Walt Whitman," he told me with obvious fondness most gay boys reserved for pop stars thick with eye-shadow or actors famous for getting shirtless in their films.

"Like the bridge?" My experience with Whitman involved crossing from South Jersey into Philly so we could hit the Trocadero Theater to watch indie bands.

"Like the gay poet."

"Oh," I said as I collapsed on to his messy bed. I lay on my stomach and rested my chin on my hands. "So can we work out an incentive program? I'm thinking it's about time someone invented Strip Book Report."

Hugh raised an eyebrow. The left, which went a little wild near the center of his forehead. I wanted to pluck the few errant hairs while he slept. But it matches his mop of unruly curls.

"Imagine. We take of our sneaks after writing the introductory sentence." I roll over and dramatically kick off one Converse All-Star. "State our thesis, off comes the shirts. By the time we're at the conclusion, the floor is covered with our clothes." I stretch my head back, off the side of the bed, and offer my best leer, seventeen years in the making.

He leans over and kisses me. A bit sloppy but that's fine because we both laugh a little. But then he shakes his head. "No. I need to work on this."

"So I'm morale support then. I can help you navigate Wikipedia for answers."

He clamps a hand over my mouth at that. Heresy! I stick my tongue out and lick his palm, which doesn't tast that great but one has to know no boyfriend is ever perfect.

"I have this tremendous idea."

When he takes his hand away, I feel the beginning of a frown. Hugh's ideas, especially when he considers them tremendous or monumental usually end up being problematic. Like last summer when he went decided to rewrite Shakespeares Taming of the Shrew as a webcomic featuring actual critters. I cured him by downloading the The Killer Shrews on my netbook and loudly playing clips of that awful film whenever he mentioned the otter Petruchio falling for a furry Kate.

"Do tell."

"I'm going to do a whole presentation--not some 6th grade book report--on the homoeroticism in Moby Dick."

I laughed. Awful move. His expression became pensive, then hurt. Like last summer when he went through a phase he called Inner Fat and wore nothing but baggy clothes. At one point, I pulled up his boxers over his navel without giving him a wedgie and told him he was ridiculous. He sulked for nearly two weeks before I dragged him free of a bad mood.

"It's not a dumb idea."

I sit up in his bed. "I never said that. But, even if there's some gay in the book--"

"There is. Lots. Whole scenes. Didn't you read it?"

"--I'm more a Spark Notes kinda guy. But, why would you want to rub their noses in it?"

"There not puppies," he said.

I suddenly envisioned Mr. Shim's class as dogs. Tracy Borland's thing for scrunchies earned her labradoodle status. Brian Coleman's jaw belonged to an English bulldog. When Derek Fiesler wore his basketball jersey--a glimpse of muscled arm and hairy pits!--that would be one hot great dane.

"Besides. I'm out. You're out."

"But neither of us wear pink shirts. We're like...assimilated. Why call so much attention to being different? Different is death in high school."

"I'm tired of acting like everyone else," he said. "We're not--"

"Maybe I am."

"You're not. You're a theater geek."

"I prefer thespian."

"You work stage crew."

"Ersatz thespian."

"You just used the word 'ersatz.' That’s a SAT expression."

"Now a good vocab is lavender, too?"

"Help me," he said.

I shook my head. "And feel all those fears from when I first came out rush back into my chest? No thanks." Even as I said that, I could feel my heartbeat race a little faster, my stomach parkour around my middle. I didn't even want to be in class if he was going to be writing G-A-Y on the whiteboard in front of everyone. I heard phantom laughter.

So I grabbed my backpack, zipped up my hoodie and left his room, rushed down the stairs, didn't even bother to call out a "Goodbye" to his folks.

* * *

The suburban streets are quiet, making my anger feel all the more necessary to keep me warm. It's early November, but few houses on the block are lit; this is a neighborhood of menorahs not tinsel. I keep to the middle of the street. My hands are tucked away in the pocket of my white hoodie.

Soon my boyfriend's car whines behind me. When he rolls down the window, the radio's song fills the air.

And he sings.

--Get in the car. It's cold. Don't be so angry all the time.

I keep walking.

He tells me again --Get in the car. Don't make me beg. Don't make me rhyme.

I stop and turn. --Don't call me Ishmael.

"I won't. Your name is Greg."

I take a step forward, resting my hands on the open car window. --Tell me you won't go through with this. Tell me that tomorrow will be sane.

He shakes his head. --I can't. I won't Don't you see? That would go against my grain.

--They'll laugh at you and, if I stand by you, me as well.

--What else does English class do than make our lives a hell?

--It's only Melville.

--Only Melville?
he croons back.

I kick the door of his car and shout. --Don't call me Ishmael!

He drives after me. --You're afraid of what? That I'll make of fool of us? But I can't stay quiet any more.

--It's just a book about a whale. Nothing else. You're finding fags where there aren't, all to start some stupid war.

--You saw the line. 'Bosom friends.' If that's not the gayest thing you ever heard a sailor say--

--I'm drawing a line. Right here and now on the street. Abandon please this Moby Dick essay. I stand in his headlights. --It's only Melville.


He stops the car, leans his head out the window. --Only Melville?

--Please. Don't call me Ishmael.


He opens the driver's side door. --He had a voice. Like any of us, he wanted to be heard!

--He's long since dead. Are you some literary nerd?

--I won't put the man in the closet, like all the teachers do.

--He's better off in the dark. Find another book to review.

--Why won't you be my Ishmael, why won't you be my first mate. I need your strength for this effort, I need you to relate.


I start stepping back. He drives after me. --You're afraid of what? That I'll make of fool of us? But I can't stay quiet any more.

--It's just a book about a whale. Nothing else. You're finding fags where there aren't, all to start some stupid war.

--You saw the line. 'Bosom friends.' If that's not the gayest thing you ever heard a sailor say--

--I'm drawing a line. Right here and now on the street. Abandon please this Moby Dick essay.
I stand in his headlights. --It's only Melville.

He stops the car, leans his head out the window. --Only Melville?

--Please. Don't call me Ishmael.


He opens the driver's side door. --He had a voice. Like any of us, he wanted to be heard!

--He's long since dead. Are you some literary nerd?

--I won't put the man in the closet, like all the teachers do.

--He's better off in the dark. Find another book to review.

--Why won't you be my Ishmael, why won't you be my first mate. I need your strength for this effort, I need you to relate.


I start stepping back. --I'm not some Ishmael, I am only a Gregory. You’ll do this alone. I won't be part of some classroom... infamy.

And I ran all the way home.

Should I post the third scene?
Yeah, I know I switch tenses... for me present tense = musical.


 

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
amieroserotruck
Mar. 25th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like! I found myself thinking in music when I read the lyrics. In the words of another musical, "Please,sir, could I have some more?"
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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